gender role test

Creativity & Psychological Androgyny

“Creative individuals are more likely to have not only the strengths of their own gender but those of the other one, too.”

“In all cultures, men are brought up to be “masculine” and to disregard and repress those aspects of their temperament that the culture regards as “feminine,” whereas women are expected to do the opposite. Creative individuals to a certain extent escape this rigid gender role stereotyping. When tests of masculinity/femininity are given to young people, over and over one finds that creative and talented girls are more dominant and tough than other girls, and creative boys are more sensitive and less aggressive than their male peers.”

Csikszentmihalyi points out that this psychological tendency toward androgyny shouldn’t be confused with homosexuality — it deals not with sexual constitution but with a set of psycho-emotional capacities:

Psychological androgyny is a much wider concept, referring to a person’s ability to be at the same time aggressive and nurturant, sensitive and rigid, dominant and submissive, regardless of gender. A psychologically androgynous person in effect doubles his or her repertoire of responses and can interact with the world in terms of a much richer and varied spectrum of opportunities. It is not surprising that creative individuals are more likely to have not only the strengths of their own gender but those of the other one, too.

It was obvious that the women artists and scientists tended to be much more assertive, self-confident, and openly aggressive than women are generally brought up to be in our society. Perhaps the most noticeable evidence for the “femininity” of the men in the sample was their great preoccupation with their family and their sensitivity to subtle aspects of the environment that other men are inclined to dismiss as unimportant. But despite having these traits that are not usual to their gender, they retained the usual gender-specific traits as well.

Creativity: The Psychology Of Invention & Discovery, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi 

(Maria Popova)

This explains so much; just ordered my copy. Perhaps there is method to this madness after all.

SEXUAL BIAS IN STEM FIELDS

Many people will say that gender role preferences are social constructs and are not inborn. This is something that is seen a lot in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics fields. The so called STEM fields.

But is there a reason other than claiming gender are forced into one role or another? Biologically there are a number of cases where this idea has been tested. 

Neurological studies show small but significant differences between the brains of males and females. With male brain showing stronger connections between the back of the brain and the front and fewer across the hemispheres. This creates a stronger connection between the visual/spatial areas of the brain and higher reasoning. Which would suggest that males are more likely to go into fields or be more interested in things that require logic,maths, and spatial manipulation. Things that dominate the STEM fields.

Female brains on the other hand show stronger connections between the hemispheres linking language and emotion. Which could be the reason behind the stereotypes of females being better at abstract,emotional, creative and multitasking abilities. Areas that are less in demand in a STEM field.

But are there any other evidences to back this up?

Primate researchers have done tests with stereotypical human girls and boys toys, dolls and trucks respectively and left them out where primates live. The surprising thing is that the preference for one type of toy over another followed the same patterns seen in human children. 

The female primates spent more time with the anthropomorphic dolls, inspecting, sniffing and licking. Whereas the male chimps time was more divided in favor of the trucks. 

The hypothesis is that the neural connections that underlay the differences may pre-dispose one gender to one type of toy or another. In this case the trucks with wheels are object that could be spatially manipulated and taken apart to see how they work. Whereas the dolls even thought they could under go the same treatment have enough living creature traits that aspects such as emotional interest may be the attracting factor among the females.

This is a good study because it removes the idea of a human created social gender role and tests whether or not nature has created gender differences.

Also a very famous case of Doctor Money and They boy that was raised as a girl helps add even more support. The case was about a boy who lost his penis during a circumcision that went wrong. At the time it was thought that gender was seemly based on environment so the boy was raised as a female. Yet no amount of training and keeping him away from the stereotypical boys things made him any more a girl. He still would play with and act like a boy when he was no longer being watched.

This case puts gender very firmly on a biological footing. For it takes the hypothesis that gender is socially constructed and tests it directly. Not only gender but sexual orientation can be derived from this case as well as many more where someone of a gender or sexual orientation has been forced to live as something they are not.

The final thing that adds support is the hypothesis that autism may be and extreme form of masculinization of the brain. There is a correlated between testosterone levels of the developing fetus and the development of autism later in life. If this is indeed the case then the autistic brain should exhibit features and behaviors that are stereotypically male.

And this does seem to be the case as autistic individuals have trouble with language, reading emotion, social cues and other traits considered to be things that females are good at. They also show extreme forms of male thinking such as genius level ability with logic, maths, science and engineering.

Even though none of this can be definitive, taken together it shows a very strong case that gender does not arise from a social construct but that nature has created it for it’s own reason. 

All of these can easily be found with a simple google except the primate studies. For that see BBC Horizon episode entitled: Is Your Brain Male or Female?